Smith#039;s backup beats up on Bengals

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. - Marcel Shipp is not running like a backup, behind Emmitt Smith or anyone else.

The bruising Arizona running back, the starter since Smith broke his left shoulder blade a month ago, rushed for 141 yards in 29 carries Sunday in the Cardinals' 17-14 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Shipp became the first Cardinal in 11 years to have consecutive 100-yard rushing games. The fourth-year pro from Massachusetts, who was not drafted, gained 165 yards last week in Arizona's 16-13 overtime victory over San Francisco.

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That's 306 yards in two games.

''I belong in this league, and I can play with anybody that lines up against us,'' the soft-spoken running back said.

Smith, the NFL's career rushing leader who was assured the starter's job when he signed with Arizona, should be back in a couple of weeks, and it will present coach Dave McGinnis with a tough decision.

''Marcel right now is the starting running back. That's where we are,'' McGinnis said. ''I'd say he's played pretty well the last two weeks.''

Shipp has said the right things since Smith arrived, but by his performances will make it hard for the coaching staff to sit him down.

''It would be disappointing because I want to be out there at all times,'' Smith said. ''Like I said, it's the coaches' decision, and I have to live with whatever they decide.''

Jeff Blake completed 18 of 28 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns. For the second week in a row, he threw no interceptions.

Jon Kitna was 21-for-38 for 218 yards and one touchdown for Cincinnati. He was intercepted twice. Cincinnati managed just 47 yards rushing, compared with Arizona's 161.

''We didn't stop the run, we didn't run the football offensively and we didn't play very good in the special teams area,'' coach Marvin Lewis said. ''We missed a big opportunity, no question.''

Corey Dillon, still bothered by a groin pull, carried seven times for 5 yards and didn't play in the second half.

''Corey tightened up a little bit at the half, which is kind of understandable,'' Lewis said.

The Bengals (3-5) led 14-10 at the half, but Arizona dominated with its ball-control style in the second half.

The Cardinals (3-5) took the second-half kickoff and went 80 yards in 13 plays, using 6:48. Arizona converted three third downs on the drive, including Blake's 7-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin.

It was a matchup of two of the NFL's biggest losers in recent history. The Bengals had shed that image, to some extent, by winning two in a row and three of four.

But in nearly empty Sun Devil Stadium - paid attendance was 23,531 - Cincinnati couldn't slow Shipp and wasn't able to move the ball consistently.

''This was a big opportunity for us to be on a legitimate roll in this league,'' Kitna said, ''with three in a row and coming back home and playing two home games. We kind of let them take it to us today.''

After Tim Duncan's 34-yard field goal bounced off the right upright with 12:31 to play, the Bengals had three possessions to try to regain the lead.

But the last two began at their 7-yard line, and they never made it into Arizona territory. Dexter Jackson's interception stopped the next-to-last possession. On their final try, Kitna's fourth-down pass to Peter Warrick was short of a first down.

The first time the Cardinals had the ball, a defensive holding call kept a drive alive. Blake threw 1 yard to Freddie Jones for the score.

Shipp's fumble, the Cardinals' 20th turnover of the season, but their only one of the game, was recovered by Cincinnati's Tony Williams at the Arizona 40 moments later. The Bengals drove to the Arizona 4, where Renaldo Hill intercepted Kitna's pass in the end zone and returned it to midfield.

However, the play was nullified by a roughing-the-passer call against Ray Thompson, and Rudi Johnson scored on a 2-yard run to tie it.

Kitna threw 15 yards to Warrick to put Cincinnati up 14-7. Duncan's 41-yard field goal cut the lead to 14-10 at the half.

Notes: The last Arizona player to have consecutive 100-yard rushing games was Johnny Johnson in 1992. … Counting the transplanted Monday night game, it was the fourth contest in eight days at Sun Devil Stadium. … Arizona fullback James Hodgins left the game with a bruised thigh, but returned after X-rays were negative.